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Gamecock is No Laughing Matter
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on February 21, 2007   |   Episode 124 (Show Archive)  

   
Mike Wilson and Harry Miller of Gamecock
Seriously guys, when you dress up like that it's hard to convince people that this is no laughing matter!
At this year's D.I.C.E. (Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain) Summit outgoing Entertainment Software Association (ESA) president Doug Lowenstein had a few choice words about the video game industry, the people that support it and those media outlets that report on it. One of his major criticisms was focused on video game journalists, people who he feels are only reporting sensational stories, rumors and other topics that are ultimately less important than what he deems as real news. He worried that if this is not corrected
Mushroom Man
This is Mushroom Man, one of the several new games announced by Gamecock!
the industry (and video game journalism as a whole) would not be taken seriously, suggesting that it's important that everybody do their best to make this industry the best it can be.

Mere hours after Doug finished his heartfelt rant the video game industry was put to the ultimate test, media outlets were given the opportunity to report on something serious and important that could potentially change the way we see the business of video gaming. How would the media react? Would IGN, 1up.com, GameSpot and others rise to the occasion and report this important news in a serious and mature matter? Or would we all go back to our regular jobs like nothing ever happened?

Last week Mike Wilson and Harry Miller, the former CEO and president of publishing house Gathering of Developers (G.O.D.), formed a new independent game publisher called Gamecock. Their idea is to put the power back into the artist's hands, allowing developers with good ideas to make unique games that
Max Payne 2
The Gathering of Developers were responsible for a number of high quality titles, including the Max Payne series!
would be a welcome change from the countless sequels and me-too titles. Wilson suggests, "The major publishers have been focusing on safe bets - large budget games often attached to major licenses or sequels." He hopes to bring a new vibe to the industry that would curb some of the hysteria regarding these multi-million dollar games.

While this is hardly the most interesting news story, it is important and something that should not be treated as a joke. Not only have Mike Wilson and Harry Miller earned enough respect in this industry to warrant serious news coverage, but their idea is also the type of thing that gamers everywhere should be excited by. There's something unnatural about the direction the
Stubbs the Zombie
One of Gamecock's first moves was to pick up Wideload and Alex Seropian, founder of Bungie and maker of Stubbs the Zombie!
industry is heading, both analysts and journalists agree that if we only focus on the major titles we are doing ourselves a disservice in the long run.

So how was this serious (and important) news reported? I have a hunch you already know what part of this story many of the major video game websites pounced on, and I assure you it had nothing to do with the prospect of making innovative games. Instead we saw the major video game websites fall all over themselves to make a joke out of the name Gamecock. That sound you hear is Doug Lowenstein rolling over in his grave.

Before we jump into the quotes and headlines, it's important that you understand what a "gamecock" is. This isn't a name that Mike
Real Cockfighting
Don't act like a 13 year old, this is what a real gamecock looks like!
Wilson and Harry Miller just made up; it's actually a real thing that you can find in any dictionary. According to the closest dictionary I could find, a gamecock is "a rooster of a fighting breed, or one bred and trained for fighting." While the thirteen year old kid in all of us wants to snicker at the name, the company name in no way references a man's penis or anything else dirty (unless you consider cockfighting to be dirty). The name Gamecock is no more controversial than the word "cockpit" or "titmouse."

But that's not how a number of prominent video game websites saw it. For example, IGN ran with the headline, "Former GODs Erect Gamecock." And if that wasn't suggestive enough, their very next line was: "A new publisher is challenging Nintendo at the dirty name game." 1up.com was no better, their headline was, "Gathering of Developers Resurrected as Gamecock," which was followed by: "Porn industry isn't making a move to videogames. Yet." While this
Hail to the Chimp
Hail to the Chimp proves that sometimes you can get your best ideas while watching C-SPAN!
would seem like low-lying fruit, anybody who actually knows what a gamecock is should be offended at the lack of originality (or clarity) in these site's stab at humor.

These headlines are just slightly better than the crude (and equally unfunny) comments that their readers made. Seconds after these stories went live we saw a flood of comments that looked a lot like this: "WTF! Are you serious?? Gamecock!? LOL." And that's just the tip of the iceberg, you also got "Gamecock "sticks it" to the other developers," "lol, gamecock it means teh [sic] penis lolol / immaturity," and "I hope Gamecock will make Wii games." And believe me, those are the clever comments.

Thankfully not every major website was willing to make a joke out of the issue. GameSpot
Real Cockfighting
The reason I have always liked Next Generation Magazine is because they always treat the serious subjects with complete respect!
should be commended for the way they handled the news story, their headline read: "GOD execs found Gamecock - Former Gather of Developers executives start a new company aimed as 'a welcome solution ... to the bloated originality starved industry.'" The same could be said for the always serious Next Generation, which led with "Former G.O.D. Execs Form Gamecock." Neither of these websites took the easy way out and turned it into a joke, which in this day and age should be something we celebrate.

The idea isn't to turn every website into a painfully boring news feed; we at Defunct Games want to see more humor injected into the otherwise serious business. Let's face it, this is a business built around having a good time, so not every news story needs to be deathly serious. But it's important to know what to make fun of, and making the same jokes that your teenage fan base is making is generally regarded as poor tact. Mike Wilson and Harry Miller deserve better from our esteemed news media, and I yearn for the day when this kind of story can be reported on by adults. Until that day, it looks like we're just going to have to get used to bathroom humor that only makes the journalist look bad. Hey IGN and 1up.com, next time you want to make fun of a name, perhaps you should go ahead and look the word up first. Just a suggestion.
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